Many business owners are told that they need to create a downloadable document that can help them explain their business, support their findings, provide education, set themselves apart as an expert in their field, or used as a free giveaway to help build a list. This can be a white paper or an e-book.
In speaking with business owners, I find that they are often confused about the differences between a white paper or an e-book and which is the appropriate item to create and offer.
According to David Meerman Scott, author of The New Rules of Marketing & PR, a white paper is an authoritative report or guide addressing issues and how to solve them. It is used to educate, and can come in the form of a research report, summary or tech brief.
White papers can be considered old-school, and tend to be boring, with extensive detail. They are generally used for more technical explanations, and can highlight an expertise in your field in a longer format. They do not make good link bait and are most often used in the B2B market.
An e-book, on the other hand, is looser, more playful, with an engaging theme, appealing design and layout, and bold text treatments, he explains. They are written in small chunks that can be easily skimmed through or scanned. They can also be concept-centric based on ideas and trends. Preference is given to visual layout, with callouts, bulleted lists and illustrations.
E-books are generally engaging and can include links, videos, or surveys, or can be used to encourage readers to take action. Offered free, they make excellent link bait and subscriber bonus giveaways. If offered freely, they can spread like wildfire through sharing. They are most often used in the B2C market.
Creating a landing page for your e-book will help people find it. And be sure to include your website, contact information, and a call to action within your e-book to build your brand and let people know how to contact you.
What to Include in your White Paper or E-book
For either publication, follow a format that uses these elements:
- Title page
- Table of Contents
- Body Content
- Call to Action (invite readers to take the next step)
If you need help creating a white paper or e-book, contact All the Buzz. We’re experts at writing content that sells.
Pablo Picasso was sitting in a restaurant one day when a woman walked up and asked if he would draw her a sketch. He said OK, and jotted down a quick sketch. When the woman went to take the drawing, Picasso held back and said, “That will be $10,000.”
The woman was outraged. “How can you charge me $10,000 when it only took you five minutes!”
Picasso politely answered, “No ma’am. It took me 50 years.”
I love this story because it reflects upon my own life as a marketing copywriter. People often wonder why I charge the rates I do, especially if the copy is short.
Here’s where they’re missing the connection:
Like Good Art, Good Writing Take Years of Preparation and Practice
I have honed my craft for more than 40 years, studying and learning how to write professional marketing copy for all the different mediums and outcomes: print, online, web, social media, white papers, grants, sales letters, advertisements, etc. It isn’t something I take, or do lightly. It is a talent as well as a profession, as it was with Pablo Picasso.
It’s not a fluke that I’ve won a prestigious Clio award, and other writing accolades. Those type of results only come from serious study of the art form.
When someone wants a job done well, they go to a professional. For example, if you need a heart transplant, you want the best, most experienced heart surgeon possible, and you’d expect to pay top dollar for an excellent result. Right? Would you trust the heart surgeon that didn’t charge a professional rate? I think not.
It’s the same with your business. Why spend the money on shoddy work that could actually stop the heartbeat of your business? Wouldn’t you rather have the best, most trained person possible to help you create a healthy flow of business?
Unfortunately, there are a lot of “wanna-be” copywriters out there. I know, because I get a lot of their work from my clients who ask me to “fix it.” My poor clients sadly then have to pay double for the same work–once to the not-so-good copywriter, and once to me, when for a lot less money, they could have gotten the best the first time. Think about that when you’re comparing writing costs.
Short Copy is Harder to Write than Long Copy
Short copy must deliver your entire message in the fewest words possible. This means that each and every word must carry weight and importance. Finding the right words to convince, influence, enlighten, or persuade also takes years of practice honing the skill. And a good writer can do it quickly. But that doesn’t mean it is easy. In fact, short writing is the most difficult type of writing.
In a writing class, I was asked to write a short story containing only 10 words. It was a wonderful exercise in storytelling that I’ve used many times when writing marketing copy for clients.
Pablo Picasso may have been controversial, but nobody could say that he wasn’t a true genius. I hope someday people regard my work that way, although I doubt it will ever appear in a museum — hmmm, unless I’m hired to write the art descriptions, catalogs, sales copy, promotions… Come to think of it, maybe my writing WILL appear in a museum someday.
If you want the best marketing copywriting, please contact All the Buzz.